Buffalo Sabres need to add veterans in free agency to insulate young talent

Derek Stepan #21 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Derek Stepan #21 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Buffalo Sabres won’t be big spenders in free agency but still have areas they need to address in order to help their current group.

What a difference a year makes. The Buffalo Sabres made one of the biggest headlines when they signed Taylor Hall only to have it come to a disappointing ending with his trade to the Boston Bruins.

This was supposed to be a move that propelled the team to a playoff spot but now there are more questions about the direction of the team. They have some big questions about Jack Eichel, his inevitable trade out of town and how to ensure that this isn’t a rebuild that lasts forever.

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There’s no reason why the team should do a complete teardown given they have some promising young players and just grabbed Owen Power with the first overall pick. Of course, there has to be the right amount of patience shown with what they are trying to accomplish.

Going into free agency, it would certainly make sense to try and add as many veterans to help mentor the younger players. They have in  Jeff Skinner, Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons but they are being kept around because their contracts are basically unmovable.

At this rate, the Sabres can go in a couple of directions. Try to sign veterans who can be usable in the top six and help Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt in their development, find some center depth and add one or two right-hand shot defensemen.

Buffalo Sabres: Ideal players to target in free agency

The Sabres can offer something to players other teams won’t be able to in free agency; playing time and a chance to rehabilitate their value.

Ideal playing time will allow a player to showcase themselves for a potential move to a contender at the trade deadline. Worst case, a player could take a one-year deal in hopes of playing well enough to land a long-term deal.

John Vogl of The Athletic (subscription required) said players like Alex Galchenyuk, Frederik Andersen, Martin Jones, David Rittich, Erik Gudbranson, Tucker Poolman, Cody Ceci, and Ben Hutton would be potential targets.

They could also look at players like Derek Stepan, James Neal, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Sutter, and Riley Nash are also players who could be looking to bounce back from tough years in not-so-great situations. Whether Buffalo is the right place for them to land remains to be seen but they need to do what they can to convince these players that they are.

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Is there a player the Sabres should look to add in free agency? Does the team need to be aggressive? Let us know in the comments below.